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How do we help our friends who are mothers to become ‘mother-allies’ to us? Jody Day interviewed on ‘A Certain Age’ Podcast by Katie Fogarty

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Listen or share the 3-minute clip from the show above. Click here to listen to the full 38-minute interview. See below for a full written transcript below.

It was such a pleasure being interviewed by Katie Fogarty for her ‘A Certain Age’ podcast which ‘celebrates life 50+ in all its sexy, smart, funny, fabulous, weird, sometimes unsettling, yet profoundly liberating glory.’ What I appreciated most deeply, apart from Katie’s warmth and humility was her genuine desire, as a mother, to understand more about what it means to be a childless woman, and how to become a better friend and ally to the childless women in her life. A decade into my own recovery from childlessness, one of the many things I notice about myself is that I am no longer envious of parents nor consider my own childless life in any way ‘second best’ to their lives, or to the life I dreamed of for myself. And along with that shift has come much more ready empathy and compassion for the challenges that mothers face in our misogynistic, sexist, pronatalist culture. I genuinely believe that building bridges and creating allyship with compassionate and curious women who are mothers (note: they are women AND they are mothers) will be key to alleviating the stigma and microaggressions that many childless & childfree women experience. It may also offer some clues and tools as to how to navigate the #FriendshipApocalypse of childlessness that so many of us, myself included, have experienced. Thank you Katie for your willingness to look into your blind spot and I really hope this conversation is one that we as a society will hear more of in the next decade of the childless liberation movement!

Some of the things Katie and talk about include: 

  • What not to say to a childless woman (because she’s heard it before).
  • The link between childlessness and grief and how grief can be an engine of change.
  • Why meaning is what drives happiness and distinction between meaning and purpose and how one fuels the other.
  • The #FriendshipApocalype that happens to so many childless women when everyone around them becomes parents and they don’t
  • Missing out on being a grandmother and dealing with the alienation from society and your peers all over again
  • How to support the women in your life who may be struggling with childlessness.
  • The power of listening versus advice-giving.
  • How Gateway Women supports women across the globe including in the U.S.
  • Resources for finding your childless peers both online and in your local community

Transcript of Jody’s interview with Katie at 'A Certain Age' Podcast. 
Click here to listen

Katie Fogarty (00:08):

Welcome to A Certain Age, a show for women on life after 50 who are unafraid to age out loud. I’m your host, Katie Fogarty.

 As everyone knows, yesterday was Mother’s Day, a holiday impossible to escape or ignore here in the US or across much of the globe. But not everyone feels like whooping it up on this holiday. Many women have complicated relationships with their mothers, others mourn lost or absent moms, and some women are not mothers at all, either by choice or by chance.

My guest today is Jody Day, a global thought leader and advocate for childless women. Jody is an author, a TEDx speaker, an integrative psychotherapist, and founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women. She joins me to talk about her book Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children and to share her take on how involuntarily childlessness impacts life, happiness, intimacy, and more.

Welcome, Jody.

 Jody Day (01:09):

Thank you, Katie, for that beautiful intro.

Katie (01:11):

Oh, I’m so happy to have you as a guest today. And as listeners might be able to tell from your accent, that you are not an American. Can you share where you are and where you’re joining us from today and a little bit more about your background and how you came to launch Gateway Women?

Jody (01:31):

Thank you, yes. So, I’m speaking today from Ireland, from Southern Ireland from a part called West Cork which is my home now. A rural place. I’m a Londoner by birth, I grew up in the countryside and then I moved back there as a young woman. So, I was a city girl until just four years ago. It’s a big part of my Plan B, as I call it, to live a rural life and I’m now doing that and I’m very happy.

Gateway Women, my organization, is 10 years old this year which is amazing. It started as a blog in 2011—me typing into the void thinking that perhaps, maybe if I wrote a blog about my childlessness, somebody would listen. Because nobody in my personal life understood what I was going through; trying to come to terms at midlife with not being a mother when that had been the plan. And all I would get back is what we call “bingos” which are these really kind of awful, shorthand expressions that close down the conversation when you try to talk about your childlessness, such as: “Oh you’re still so young, you still got time.” “Why don’t you just adopt?”  “Here have one of my mine.” “Kids aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.” “Oh, you dodged a bullet.” There’s kind of a rolling autocue of these and all of us who were childless not by choice known them, and those of our sisters who are childfree by choice have similar, slightly different ones. But these can come from even the most empathic and sensitive people around us and they kind of really make it hard to talk about our situation. Because what I was talking about, I wasn’t asking for advice of how to become a mother. At 46 I’d accepted that wasn’t going to happen. And after 11 years of unexplained infertility in my marriage, and then not finding another partner when I got divorced to try IVF with, it was kind of game over for me. But nobody would let me talk about that. They just wanted to tell me ways that they’d heard at the bus stop that I could become a mother.

And so, that’s how Gateway Women started, and here we are, a decade later, got a social reach of 2 million around the world, running workshops, support communities, my book. And you know, some people now call me the patron saint of childlessness. Or my most recent favorite is actually the Beyoncé of childlessness, [Katie laughs] but I have to say: I have neither the outfits nor the moves.

Katie (04:03):
Oh my gosh, I actually saw that when I spent some time Googling you. Looking you up, I did see you referred to as the “Beyoncé of Childlessness” which totally cracked me up, but it also made it sound–as you were joking–somewhat glamorous. But you just alluded to how painful it could be at times and when I got a chance to you know, quickly go through your book, which you shared with me, you write a lot about the grief of this loss. You just shared with all of our listeners right now, some of the insensitive to unkind things that you might have heard. What does this grief look like for people? You’ve experienced it first hand, you are part of a community of women sharing about this. What don’t people understand who are on the other side?

Jody (04:54):
Well, interestingly, it’s not just those who are on the other side, as you call it. Many women who are childless not by choice do not realize that what they are experiencing is grief. I didn’t realize it was grief. When I was in the second year of my training to become a psychotherapist and we were doing training on bereavement, and I was learning about this model, the five stages of grief and I was thinking, “This feels awfully familiar.” And I went home that evening and I mapped it out against my experience of childlessness and I realized it was a perfect fit. That I was grieving. And I was hugely relieved for two reasons. Number one, I realized I wasn’t going mad. Because anyone who’s had an experience with grief will know that the internal cognitive world of grief is incredibly confusing. And number two, I understood that grief was a process. I didn’t know how but I knew that one day I would be on the other side of this experience, and that gave me hope. And at that point, I became a bit of a grief junkie and I started to really explore and understand what disenfranchised grief is and how it manifests in childlessness and how we can support ourselves through it.

Katie (06:09):
And how are you able to bring that to other women and help them translate their grief into… or process it and achieve, perhaps, peace with their situation?

Jody (06:24):
I think the number one thing that I’ve come to understand is that grief is a form of love. And like love, it needs that beloved, it needs the other. Grief is a social emotion, it cannot exist in a vacuum. If it was possible to get through grief on our own, in our heads, in our rooms, we all would have done it by now. But we actually need community. And that’s probably the number one thing that Gateway Women provides, is it connects childless women with each other. Because when you talk about your grief, even online, and someone absolutely gets what you’re talking about and they don’t close you down, and they don’t shame you, and they don’t say, “Aren’t you over that?” Or anything like that, they actually understand what you’re talking about. Grief is… It heals your heart, but it heals your heart in community and in empathic connection. Grief is not the problem, it’s actually the solution. It’s also the engine of change. We cannot change, we cannot move forward with our lives, in any situation, without letting go of something and we cannot let go of anything without grief. Learning to work with your grief and actually allow the wisdom of it to enable you to change. I think it’s a deeply misunderstood human experience and it is, it’s the engine of change. I’m a huge grief fan.

Katie (07:49):
I have a shiver that ran up my spine when you said that grief was this engine of change and I just felt that that is such a beautiful way of looking at it. It’s not a problem, it’s a solution, and that it’s something that must be experienced in connection to other people for it to sort of alchemized into that change that can help us feel community and connection. And I feel like the globe is in this collective period of grief that we’ve gone through together during the pandemic. And that the way through this moment in time for us is to be together. And it makes so much sense that for women who are struggling with the grief of not being a mother, that finding community is so key.

Jody (08:43):
And online works beautifully. It’s sometimes, you know, to be able to know our online community there’s an app for it as well and I always say, “We’re always in your back pocket.” If you’ve got to go to that baby shower, if someone in your office has just put their scan, the sonogram on the company internet, you can always kind of check into your community of childless women and go, “You won’t believe what just happened.” And there’s kind of 800 women there that get why that’s difficult for you. And get that it doesn’t mean you’re not happy for the woman who is pregnant. That it’s not about jealousy, it’s not about envy, it’s not about bitterness, it’s about, “It’s really hard for me to be happy for her when nobody will let me have my feelings around this.” And that’s why it’s so important.

Katie (09:33):
That is such fantastic advice for people who are on the listening end of this. And I’m processing it for myself as well, just to, how can I be supportive to the women in my life who might be struggling with this? And that there are these moments where we might be insensitive in ways that we’re not aware of. And just by raising our radar around how we communicate and share could be one way.

A woman came on my show several episodes ago, a woman by the name of Terri Cheney, who talked about her struggle with bipolar disorder and her challenges with managing her mental health. And she also talked about the fact that it’s so key to ask people how they’re doing and then to truly listen. And that when people jump in and try to help–she’s been offered every remedy under the sun–you must talk to my therapist or my yoga teacher, I’ve heard eating blueberries is amazing and could help you. And it felt so alienating to have the people in her life not hear what she was saying. To jump in to fix rather than to listen. And when she said that, I literally had to check myself because I want to sometimes jump in and offer people advice and that’s not a generous way of behaving. So, thank you for reminding us that listening is sometimes what’s needed.

 Jody (10:57):
You’re very welcome. And those statements that she talked about, in a way, those were her “bingos,” those were the things she heard again and again from people. And at that moment, that pause, when someone tells you about a situation that is incredibly uncomfortable and painful when we jump in with advice or we jump in with… Because often those “bingos” that I talked about, people genuinely think they’re being helpful by suggesting that you might try adoption. As if you haven’t, or as if it’s a possibility for you that you might not have considered. I promise you, we will have considered it. [Katie laughs] There’s a moment of discomfort, and in that moment, I believe, one of the reasons we struggle with someone else’s discomfort at that moment and jump to fix it is because we are empathic creatures and in that moment we feel their grief, we feel their loss. And what it does is it triggers our own unhealed griefs and losses. So, in order to kind of move it away from that moment, we offer advice. It’s sort of a socially acceptable thing to do, but it’s kind of a way of putting a band-aid, not just on their pain but on our discomfort. And as you said, the really generous thing to do is just take a breath. Don’t say that first thing that comes to mind, and listen.

 Katie (12:23):
We are all going to be better listeners after this show. This is such a good reminder because I committed myself to this, you know, five episodes ago and I’ve had to be reminded of this. And I’m so grateful that I’m having the opportunity to put this back in the front of my brain again.

Jody (12:40):

And it’s very tempting, I mean it’s totally tempting for me to do the same. It’s a very natural human response. As a trained therapist, we’re trained to notice what our first response is and think to ourselves inside with our internal supervisor and go, “That’s interesting that that’s what I want to say” and then we say something else. But the instinct to fix is very natural. It’s just it’s not always the most helpful.

Katie (13:06):
So, what are some helpful things? We both agree that listening needs to be perhaps, the first offering that you bring to the table when you’re having these conversations with people undergoing anything where you might want to alleviate their suffering. What else helps, what else would you recommend? For listeners on the show who might be, you know who’ve experienced the loss of being a mother themselves, that have perhaps children in their lives, young adult daughters who are struggling with infertility. What are some things that are helpful that you can recommend to support people? What’s been helpful to you, when somebody’s responded to you in a particular way, what does that look like?”

Jody (13:53):

It’s really rare. [both laugh] I don’t think I have…

Katie (13:57):

That’s awful.

Jody ():

…any examples in my personal life of any helpful comments around this. I think possibly imagining having a daughter or relative or friend going through it and you have children of your own and you really would like to be sensitive. Probably my comment is; whatever you’re thinking of saying first, just park that. And maybe ask an open question. Be curious. Instead of presuming it’s been X amount of time, she’ll be in a different place with that, or something, kind of, “How are you doing with this today?” So, you really leave it open to them. “Is this something you want to talk about?” They might be having a great day.

That’s one of the confusing things about grief, is sometimes someone can be experiencing deep grief and look great, and sometimes they can actually be having a good day and they don’t really want to go there. So, that can make it really difficult to support us, because we get so used to not talking about how we’re feeling as childless women and women and couples struggling with infertility, that we actually don’t give out enough information for people to sort of know how to respond to us. And then when they get it wrong, we leave and lick our wounds and share even less. So, it’s almost like building that bridge to allow them to make yourself a safe person for them to talk to. You don’t have any expectations of their answer. If they say, “Actually I’m doing really good with it today, thanks.” Leave it at that, but they might want to tell you much more. And also, I would really encourage anyone dealing with someone like this in their life or in their workplace, is just not to presume that the way they were last week or last month or last year is how they are now. So, they might not have wanted to come to baby showers or children’s parties, and now they’re okay with it, but then a month from now, they might really be struggling with it. So, really allow them the humanity to kind of, they haven’t arrived at a settled position with this new identity yet, which is their childless identity. Because grief is a process of identity transformation.

Katie (16:09):
Yes, and identities are always evolving. That’s a big part of what we’re talking about this month on A Certain Age. We’re talking about the evolving of relationships, the evolving of identity, and I love that you flagged that there are days and times when it’s good and there are days and times when things are a struggle and we see that in our own lives so we need to sort of allow that, we need to look at other people’s lives through that same filter. That there is an evolution. Have you found for your own situation, your own life, that aging in any way has affected how you relate to your struggle with infertility, how you feel about it? Has it lessened it or does it not impact?

Jody (16:59):
Well, my grief evolves with me. I’m now 56, I’ll be 57 soon. And what I’ve really noticed is that my children, the children that only live in my heart but not in my life, are aging with me
. So, for example, a decade ago, it would be probably children around the age of 9, that if I would see them in the street or I would see interactions with their parents, it would really touch my heart and it would be painful for me. And now I notice that it’s actually the interactions of young adults with their parents that I find most affecting. But because grief has healed my heart so much bigger than it was, it has really transformed me, now I would say that instead of it feeling like a horse kick in the heart it’s more of a cocktail stick to the heart. I’ve learned to deal with the grief, and it’s like, “Oh, all right. I’m not gonna get that either, right.”

The next big transition and I’m a little bit afraid of it, I’m hopeful but I’m fully prepared for it but you never know, is my friends becoming grandmothers. Because that is another big life transition and big life identity that not only am I not gonna get to experience personally, but I’m not gonna share with my peers. And from what I understand from my members, that can be incredibly difficult, because it can be that your friends, their children kind of grow up they leave the nest hopefully and you get a chance maybe hopefully reconnect with your old friends that are no longer quite subsumed in family life as they were and then suddenly, 5 years later, 10 years later, 15 years later it happens all over again. And some women, I’m afraid, can become just as much grandchildren bores as they were mother bores.

Katie (18:49):
[laughs] Oh my gosh, I can totally see that. I feel like I have, in my own personal life, I have a number of very close girlfriends that I adore and that I’m in great touch with, and many of them are moms, and many of them are not. And I hope that I’m respectful of my friends and you know, that I ask about their jobs and their interests and their nieces and nephews that they’re really excited about and in love with and that I’m respectful. But I hear what you’re saying. Sometimes you do feel that you don’t wanna be imposing your family life on your friends without them and they probably do feel left out at times because you often spend time with people who have kids your age too.

Jody (19:40):

Yes. And that’s another of the big issues, if like me for example, everyone I knew in my family, in my social circle, in my work acquaintances, everyone else I knew who wanted to be a mom became a mom. Every single one. I knew childfree women by choice, but that was it, everyone else kind of got the life they wanted in one shape of another. And one of the really difficult things was that I lost all my friends. They didn’t break up with me, they just moved to another country called Motherland where I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t have the passport. It was too painful for me to visit for quite some time, and they got a whole new set of friends from their new life. I think they sometimes imagined that I was having the life that we’d all had together in our twenties, but they sort of forgot that I didn’t have a spare set of friends in the airing cupboard to grow. I lost my friends, I lost my friendship group, I lost my currency. I call it the #FriendshipApocalypse of childlessness and it is devastating. When it happened to me, at first I just thought I was a really bad friend. But actually, as I started to write about it and talk to other childless women, I discovered so many of us were experiencing this. However, I am noticing in some of my younger members and younger women in my life as well, is that it is becoming less likely that there is no one in your social circle who is also childless. The rates of childlessness are going up, the number of millennials who are having children by the age of 30 in the US is so much less than it’s ever been, and that is quite a strong predictor for later childbearing. Obviously, women are having children later but smaller families, you know, and some of those women are going to be childless not by choice.

Katie (21:36):

Absolutely. Jody, we’re gonna take a very quick break but when we come back, I wanna talk about a chapter in your book that caught my eye. You talk about Plan B and DIY happiness. So, I wanna hear what that looks like and how we can put it into action, after this break.

[Ad break]

Katie (23:05):

All right, Jody, we’re back. I want to explore this notion of Plan B that you referenced at the top of the show and this notion of DIY happiness. You say that being childfree means relying on yourself for happiness and purpose because you’re not relying on your children. Some parents fall into the role of having the meaning in their life come from their kids.  Their kids are the source of this wellspring of happiness. And when you don’t have children you are forced to DIY your own happiness. I think this is something I really wanna talk about because I feel that even if you have children, you should still be able to DIY your own happiness that is separate from them. Because when children are all the source of meaning and happiness in life, kids can feel smothered, women can lose their identity and sort of postpone their own happiness. So, I feel that listeners on the show who don’t have children, but listeners on this show who do have children need to hear more about these tools that you’re referring to because it’s valuable for anybody.

Jody (24:11):

Thank you. I would also like to say the idea of women who’d become over-identified with motherhood and perhaps become motherhood bores, as I call them, I’ve got a great deal of sympathy for them. I’m pretty sure I would have been one of them. I would have been boring for Britain about my kids [Katie laughs] because I was so desperate for that identity. I spent so many years longing for it, planning for it, trying for it. And also I came from an unhappy home, I’d had an unhappy childhood. Motherhood was about more than having children, I wanted to create a “perfect family,” I’m going to put that in inverted commas for the radio because of course I didn’t come from one and there aren’t any.

Katie (24:51):

Jody (24:52):
You know, I’m a psychotherapist, so it’s like… But I think that desire can tip over into collapsing your identity into motherhood. And as you say that can be a really challenging thing to pull yourself out of, it can be a really challenging thing for your children as well, to be the center of the universe in that way. I’ve noticed that my friendships that have survived or that I’ve met since being childless, are with women who haven’t collapsed their identity into motherhood. They are still them and they are great mums. But, you know, they never introduce themselves as so and so’s mum, they never use their children’s photographs on Facebook, they’re very respectful of their children’s boundaries and their own. Now I think perhaps—

Katie (25:39):
I love that. Jody, I have to stop for one second. I remember walking into my kids’ pediatrician’s office and the doctor referred to me as “Mom.” He kept saying things like, “Mom, this is what’s going on. Mom, this is what’s going on.” And I remember being like, “I’m not your mom, why are you talking to me this way? I’m more than just a mother.” So, I really connect with that. And women, you can love being a mother but still feel that you have your own identity and I think that that’s so important. And this show is a big part of talking about identity and transformation as we age and sort of taking center stage In our own lives or creating a new chapter as we move into midlife and beyond. So, let’s give us all your DIY happiness wisdom because I am here for it. [laughs] What can we do? What are your tips for building and claiming your own happiness and identity?

Jody (26:38):

I think for me, it was really about going through that transformation, going through the process of grief. Grief basically deletes all the bullshit. You really end up knowing who you are, who your friends are, and really what excites you. Because it’s such a powerful experience in terms of its energy drain on you as well. The only thing that’s going to get you out of bed and get you excited is something that has purpose and meaning. And really that is where… I mean happiness, happiness is a transient thing. But it often arises out of engaging in things that feel purposeful and that have meaning for us and meaning is incredibly elusive and utterly vital. And people say to me, “Well I don’t know what my meaning is.” And I say, “It’s a bit like falling in love.” When you’re a young person, you talk to grownups and say, “What is love?” And they say, “You’ll know it when you feel it.” And then you have your first experience with falling in love and you think, “Oh, this is what you’re talking about.” And finding your meaning feels like that but it’s not a one-shot deal. You have to keep, as your identity changes and you age, as you said before, what feels meaningful what feels purposeful, that starts to change as well. And the difference between meaning and purpose: purpose is what you do with the meaning that you have. So, in a way purpose is often the outward expression of that inward meaning.

Katie (28:10):
So, what does that mean? That sounds like a very cool, almost a riddle. What does that mean? Can you break that down for us, purpose versus meaning? Because I’m curious about this.

Jody (28:21):
They’re often blended together. Purpose, you can see what someone’s purpose is because it usually bears out in their actions. It’s what they actually do when they get up in the morning. It helps them to make the decisions about how they’re going to live their life, but it is informed by what is meaningful to them. Meaning is almost like an energy source. When you’re tapped into your meaning, rather like when you’re tapped into love, you have the energy to move forward with things, you have the energy to commit to things. And without it, meaninglessness is sort of a negative energy sink, you can’t get anything done. And I think it’s really okay that your kids give you that sense of meaning. I think human beings, you know, evolution was smart to make that work for us because they can give you the energy to do things you don’t have the energy for because it’s meaningful for you and meaningful for them. It just becomes a problem when that’s all you do. So, I think it’s basically a voyage of self-discovery, dark night of the soul, and a lot of experimentation about: what brings me joy, what lights me up? Where is my mojo and how can I find it? My book is full of tips, basically excavating your mojo. Because once she is back at the center of your life making your decisions, then things start to change. Not everyone will be pleased about that, [both laugh] but things will change.

Katie (29:50):
I love that. You’ve really crystallized something that I feel for myself. People will often say to me, “You have a day job, and you’ve got kids, and this puppy. How are you doing the podcast?” I’m like, I am so excited and lit up by having these conversations that it doesn’t feel like work, and the sense of connective tissue that I have, having conversations with amazing women sets me in motion. It makes me get up and find guests, read their books, and have the conversations, and create the graphics, and schedule, and do this and do that because I love it.

Jody (30:28):
I completely understand. Women are always asking you know, “How do you keep going? How do you do what you do?” To me, “After a decade, aren’t you fed up with this subject?” And for me it’s the same thing it’s that I’m passionate about it. And the work gives me the energy to do the work. It’s not an energy sink, it feeds my soul. If it didn’t feed my soul, I wouldn’t have the energy to do it. I’ve got midlife menopausal insomnia, I’m permanently on two bars, recharge now.

Katie (30:59):

I have a couple of episodes you need to listen to Jody. I have a lot of tips on menopause. [both laugh]

Jody (31:06):

So, if it didn’t fire me up, light me up, I actually couldn’t do it.

Katie (31:11):
Yes, I totally agree. It’s so important to connect to what’s lighting you up and that is a theme of this show, that the women that come on talk about the passions that are driving them, the confidence that midlife gives them to let them very much hone in on what it is they want to be doing, how they want to be in their lives, and how they show up for themselves. Because that’s a big part of it. It’s not just, what do I want, but how do I commit to myself and move my projects forward?

So, a quick question for you. You are a Londoner living in Ireland, but Gateway Women is global. You have things happening here in the US, where most of my listeners are. I would love for you to share a little bit about your work in the US and how people might access it.

Jody (32:05):

Absolutely. So, some things have gone a bit quiet in the pandemic, but will be starting to wake up again. We have what’s called our Gateway Gatherings, which are our free social meetings. So, you can actually, you can meet women like you in your local area. We did have about 30 of those across the US, they’re now online, there’s a handful of them online but they will be waking up again soon. We have our global online community, we have many, many American members in our online community. And we also have our Reignite Weekend.

So, something that came out of the pandemic. Our Reignite Weekend is the two-day workshop that I created back in 2012 now, going strong, which is kind of a healing and transformational weekend for childless women. Which kind of takes you through the grief journey, but then very much into Plan B, very much into the tools that you’ve been talking about: how do I put this information into action in my life? Because we had to cancel all of the in-person ones, we moved it online in 2020 which means it’s now available in North America as well. And we’ve got another one of those coming up on July 17-18 and then later in the year as well. So, that’s really exciting because before it used to be after me coming to America to lead those workshops, which I will do again one day but not for a couple of years at the moment by the looks of things.

Katie (33:30):
It sounds like a lot of wonderful offerings. Before I let you go, are there any other products or tools or talks, resources that you have found to be valuable in your own life as you navigate this?

Jody (33:46):
Yes, there’s a wonderful community in America organized by a lady called Katie which is called Chasing Creation, which I would really direct your listeners to if they want to. That’s really about childlessness after infertility. Gateway Women supports women who are childless for any reason. And most women who are childless, 80% of women who are childless are childless by circumstance. One of the biggest circumstances is being single when that wasn’t your choice. So, we offer a lot of support around that.

The day after Mother’s Day—over the Mother’s Day weekend we will have had two free webinars—the recordings for those will be up on the website, with tools about how to kind of manage Mother’s Day. And I think it can be really helpful to join our community and get support from other women around the world who have been through Mother’s Day. This weekend just go on and plan how you’d like to do it differently next year. Because often we let these days, these difficult days, like Mother’s Day and Christmas, ambush us. Thinking that perhaps they might be different this year, and the way to make them different is to do something different.

Katie (34:52):

Absolutely. I was very surprised to learn from your website that 1 in 5 women over 45 are childless either by chance, by choice, for whatever reason. And that’s a big number. So, it’s so important to know that community is out there, communities like yours, women who can support you, where you can feel, where you can be seen in ways that you may not be in your other communities even if they are loving and kind and supportive. It’s nice to be with people who totally get it.

Jody (35:26):

We’re everywhere. We are 1 in 5, 1 in 6 in the US. Someone you know is struggling with this. Maybe you’ve presumed that maybe because they don’t talk about it that they chose not to have children. But maybe someone you know, someone you support, someone you love is really struggling with this and I would just ask you to be curious and empathic and listen and see if there’s something you can do to help.

Katie (35:51):

Absolutely. And I think anyone who is listening to this show would benefit from spending some time on your website because as you pointed out, these are our friends, these are the women in our lives, these are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are our relatives, these are the women that we work with. And even if this is not your particular journey, you can learn so much and just be a better friend to somebody in your life.

Jody (36:14):
Katie, I did my TED talk is called “The Lost Tribe of Childless Women” so you can Google that and find it, it’s 18 minutes. I wrote it to those people who aren’t childless, to the parents of the world to help them understand us. So perhaps if you’re curious what it’s like to be us and how to support us, watch my TED talk.

Katie (36:35):
I’m putting it into the show notes. Jody, how can my listeners keep following you and your work and Gateway Women?

Jody (36:42):
Absolutely. The website, I’m on Instagram and Twitter, @gatewaywomen, and in the online community pretty much every day on Mighty Networks so you can find all the details on the Gateway Women website.

Katie (36:58):

Jody, thank you so much for being with us today.

Jody (37:00):

It’s been a delight, thank you.

Katie (37:02):
This wraps A Certain Age, a show for women over 50 who are aging without apology. If you enjoyed this week’s show, please head to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to review the show. Reviews help us grow so do your thing.

Join me next week when we continue to explore relationships in midlife. I’m joined by author Laura Williams, author of the book, AvailableA Memoir of Sex and Dating After a Marriage Ends.

Special thanks to Michael Mancini, who composed and produced our theme music. See you next time and until then: age boldly, beauties.

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